1. Banging on about leaseholds… Got to be done.

    20 June 2016

    There are still lots of people unaware of the importance of this Cramlington issue.
    Talking to estate agent friends in other parts of the region the problem they have is similar. The unique situation with our town is that it was developed by Leech and Bell relatively quickly with homes sold on 99 year lease terms.
    Other estates, say in Durham, Killingworth or Sunderland, were developed individually by these builders and form a small part of the total housing stock.
    We have helped owners of leasehold homes save a lot of money by showing them how to negotiate with freeholders.
    Results vary from estate to estate. Several thousands of pounds have been shaved off initial prices quoted.
    In some cases up to 50%.
    Waiting will cost you money.
    It will also lengthen the time it takes for a sale to go through causing frustration and complications.
    We aren’t in this for the money. We don’t charge anything.
    You will have to pay an expert surveyor but the fee is peanuts compared to the savings you could make.
    There’s no price to put on peace of mind.

  2. Cramlington Development Trust

    23 May 2016

    I have recently been asked to join The Cramlington Development Trust as a director. It’s still early days and I am still trying to get my feet under the table but, as my main concern is housing and related subjects, I will be continuing my mission to inform and assist with the leasehold issues that we continue to experience. Ultimately, I would like to see all new houses built in Cramlington to be freehold.

    The Trust, while it is still in its infancy, has an enthusiastic board with the prosperity and wellbeing of the town as its driver.

    Please have a look at the website to learn more about the aims and objects of the organisation.


  3. Buying new? Ask some questions…..seriously.

    7 May 2016

    Getting a lot of requests for advice from people outside of Cramlington experiencing exactly the same problems.It seems we are not alone.

    Looking at a lease today for a flat on Southfield built in 1972 and the 99 year lease started in 1964.

    That’s 10% of the term gone.

    Scandalous really.

    That’s why I’m asking buyers of new houses to ask questions before they sign up.

    Do you know anyone looking at buying a new leasehold house?

    Please make sure they know to ask. 

    Just a warning. 

    That’s all.

  4. Here’s one for you…..Virtual ofices.

    1 April 2016

    An agent in another town ( about 10 miles away ) is advertising a phone number on his web site indicating that he has an office in Cramlington.

    They clearly haven’t got an office in Cramlington; if they had I would know about it.

    According to them, it’s a virtual office.

    Intrigued?  I was.

    It’s the way forward, said the principal when I asked him about it. I’m doing it before everyone else does. Ahead of the curve, he says. I have experts who know the area without the expense of having an office.

    The only house that I’m aware of that they are marketing around here is way overpriced and has been on the market for 10 months.

    Personally, I think it’s misleading.

    We once had an agent who advertised an office in Cramlington when all he had was a display in a newsagent’s shop window.

    He went out of business.


  5. Landlord Testimonial: It really does seem remarkable…

    24 March 2016

    I wanted to say a very big thank you to all at Renown for looking after me for the last 10?15? years….please pass these comments on to all the staff!

    It really does seem remarkable, that it is 19 years since I went to view flats in the area with a slim, new boy called Paul Booth who was a tad surprised that I as good as put him in charge of selecting the property to buy, as well as then having to let it!!!!! …a lot has happened in the ensuing years, mostly positive.

    Anyway again many thanks and all the best for the future.

    John McConnell.

  6. Making an empty house look nice isn’t easy.

    16 March 2016

    It may seem that selling an empty house is easier.

    It can prove to be quite the opposite these days; just ask an agent.

    As you will no doubt know, most property searches start on the Internet. Whether it be Google, Onthemarket or Zoopla, out comes the iPad, laptop or smart phone and the quest begins.

    The ones that stand out are the nicely finished, smart, well decorated and fully furnished.

    When it comes to taking photos of rooms there isn’t a lot you can do with an empty magnolia living room. Kitchens and bathrooms are easier but trying to get a good shot of a plain, painted room with a cream carpet isn’t easy.

    There nothing to give you a reference point or show a buyer whether their table, sofa and book case will fit. That’s the problem these days. The viewing is done online and good homes are being passed by because of this.

    That’s why house builders spend so much on show homes. What you see is not always what you get. You get the empty box.

    So don’t discount the vacant ones. Arrange to see them for yourself. A good agent will be happy to show you around and see what you could be missing. And…….there may not be an upward chain

    So you see Mr and Mrs Owner,  we are doing our best to educate ( well Renown is anyway ).

  7. What’s going to happen today then ?

    In our business you never know. This is a bit of a lengthy tale but if you’re not busy, stick with it.

    Many years ago I had a call from a solicitor who asked for our help in valuing a property . The instruction came about because an old guy had refused to pay his Council Tax and ended up in court. We were able to help out with an approximate figure and thought no more about it.

    Some months later we had another call from the solicitor who reported that the old guy had sadly died and had a business card in his pocket found by a nurse at the hospital bearing his name. We were asked to meet him at the property we had valued previously.

    It turned out to be a flat above a shop in a typical parade that you find in many towns and villages.

    The place was in a right mess. It was stuffed with old furniture, piles of newspapers and general rubbish including scores of empty catering size mayonnaise tubs. There was no bedding, just an old coat for cover and nowhere to cook or wash.

    It seemed from what we had found that the owner must have been fairly destitute but the lawyer found a few Building Society passbooks.

    We measured it up and left it the way it was. On leaving we stuck a notice to the front door asking that any enquiries should be passed to us or the solicitor.

    After a few days the enquiries started. The first was to ask if we were taking the rent payments for the shop below. Then a second, then a third from other shopkeepers in the street.

    It turned out that our old guy hadn’t been quite so poor after all.

    He owned several shops,  as well as the flat,  a house nearby, a cottage with quite a bit of land, a lock up garage full of rusting vintage cars and had lots of cash in various bank accounts.

    Some time later we learned that he owned a couple of houses in the Midlands.

    Locals said that they didn’t think that he had any family as no one ever saw any visitors.

    1As you hear said a lot these days; he kept himself to himself.

    We decided that the fairest way to dispose of these various properties would be to auction them. We used an independent auctioneer who specialised in this type of sale.

    It was all set up, widely publicised, well attended  and they were all knocked down at fair prices.

    The solicitors enquiries turned up a few distant nieces and nephews, some of whom attended the auction to tot up their anticipated windfalls which, by the way, ended up in a share of the slightly north of a couple of hundred thousand ( bearing in mind that this was quite some years ago ) not to be sniffed at.

    One lady expected to get her share there and then at the end of the sale. Not to be, of course.

    It was all done and dusted and after a  while they all got their share.And this all this started because Mr. S ( no names please ) didn’t pay his Council tax.

    Just another day at the office.

  8. Which way to go with leaseholds?

    3 February 2016

    I was at a lunch time meeting today with a group of surveyor/valuers.We have regular get togethers to talk over topical stuff and general property matters.

    As usual the leasehold situation is on the agenda and it is interesting to see how things are moving.

    The general consensus now seems to be that the lease extension with no up-front payment and a high, index linked ground rent is not favoured and may result in very little increase in value of a property.

    This is something to bear in mind when choosing which type of lease extension to go for.

    Any mortgage valuation will be influenced by both the length of time remaining on a lease and the ground rent payable.

    As an example recent ground rent figures quoted for new leases with no up front payment are over £700 p.a.

    Something to think about and even more reason to challenge the prices quoted by Simarc, Compton Group and Shenstone.

    What we need is a move against this trend of relatively short leases on houses and flats.

    There is no real reason that new leases should have a longer term. Flats with a “Tyneside ” lease were given 999 year terms.

    These flats are found all over Newcastle and Northumberland.

    The terraced flats in the village on East View Ave and Blagdon Terrace have this sort of lease.

    No problems with them.

    There are Bell flats at Wideopen with these long leases.

    Why not Cramlington?

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